An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6)
Lot 86TP Y
An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui
Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century
Sold for £1,688,750 (US$ 2,259,116) inc. premium

Lot Details
The Property of a Lady of Title 女爵藏品
An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6) An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century (6)
An important and exceedingly rare pair of large huanghuali tapering cabinets, yuanjiaogui
Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th century
Each with an elegantly rounded protruding top with 'ice-plate' edge set on subtly splayed oval corner posts housing well-figured, book-matched, single panelled doors opening from the removable central stile to reveal the interior fitted with two shelves, with a metal three-part rectangular lock plate and pulls, all above a plain narrow apron with rounded apron spandrels, original lacquer coating on the backs.
Each 189cm (74 3/8in) high x 97cm (38 1/4) wide x 51cm (20in) deep. (6).

Footnotes

  • 明十六/十七世紀 黃花梨圓角櫃 成對

    Provenance: Francesco Maria, Marchese Taliani de Marchio (1887 - 1968), Grand Officer of the Italian Crown, Commander of the Order of St Maurice and Lazarus, and Commander of the Order of Pius IX (Ordine Piano), and his wife Archduchess Maragaretha d'Austria Toscana, Marchesa Taliani de Marchio (1894 – 1986).
    Acquired from Robert M. Drummond, Beijing, 15 April 1939.

    Published and Illustrated: Gustav Ecke, Chinese Domestic Furniture, Beijing, 1944, no.90, pl.111 (one of the pair)
    Gustav Ecke, 'Notes on Chinese Furniture' in Orientations, Hong Kong, November 1991, p.75, fig.23

    來源: 佛朗西斯高•瑪利亞,塔里安利•得•馬基奧侯爵(1887-1968)及馬加烈特•奧地利-托斯卡納女大公,塔里安利•得•馬基奧女侯爵(1894-1986)伉儷收藏
    於1939年4月15日購自北平古董商Robert M. Drummond

    出版及著錄:
    古斯塔夫•艾克(Gustav Ecke)著,《Chinese Domestic Furniture(中國室內傢俱)》,北京,1944,編號90,圖111(其一)
    古斯塔夫•艾克(Gustav Ecke)著,「Notes on Chinese Furniture (中國傢俱隨筆)」,《Orientations》,香港,1991年11月,頁75,圖23

    Robert and William Drummond were Chinese furniture dealers in Beijing during the first half of the 20th century. Dr Gustav Ecke in his seminal publication Chinese Domestic Furniture, Beijing, 1944, made a particular mention of "Robert and William Drummond, whose active interest has enriched the present collection and the homes of many Peking residents".

    Marchese Taliani was a distinguished Italian diplomat who lived through major historical upheavals of the first half of the 20th century, events whose impact affects all to this day. His first diplomatic appointment was to Berlin in 1912; followed by Constantinople in 1913, where during the First World War he negotiated an agreement for the protection Italian citizens and interests in the (soon to partitioned) Ottoman Empire. From 1916 to 1919 he served in St Petersburg, and under the privilege of diplomatic immunity was in a unique position to observe and chronicle first-hand the October Revolution, its day by day development , the subsequent fall of Tsarist Russia and the establishment of the Soviet Republic; from 1919 he served in Rome as Secretary of State for the Minister of Foreign Affairs; with later assignments to London (1921 - 1923) and again to Constantinople (1924 – 1928), this time as the Republic of Turkey; from 1929 - 1930 he was in Rome as Head of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; in 1932 he was appointed Italian Ambassador to the Netherlands; in 1938 he was appointed Ambassador to China, where he remained until 1946; and his last diplomatic appointment was in 1951 as Ambassador to Spain until 1952.

    Sent to China in 1938 as Ambassador to the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek in Nanjing, he became an acute - and far from humourless, despite the hardships of everyday life - front line eye-witness of the Second Sino-Japanese War, during which the Japanese forces captured the capital and attacked Shanghai. When Mussolini recognised Wang Jingwei's Japanese puppet government, Taliani presented his credentials to him. On 8 September 1943, having refused to swear allegiance to the Italian Social Republic (Republic of Salò), he and his wife, the Archduchess Margaretha d'Austria Toscana (1894 - 1986), were arrested and interned by the Japanese in a concentration camp near Shanghai, where they remained for two years until the end of the war. After the end of hostilities, the new government of Alcide De Gasperi reconfirmed him as Ambassador to China until 1946.

    A number of masterpieces of classical Chinese furniture in the collection have been published by the eminent scholar Dr Gustav Ecke in his seminal book Chinese Domestic Furniture, Beijing, 1944, as well as Dr Ecke's article devoted to folding chairs, 'Wandlungen Des Faltstuhls: Bemerkungen zur Geschichte der Euraischen Stuhlform' ('Development of the Folding Chair: Observations on Euroasian Chair Forms'), which was published in Monumenta Serica, vol.9, 1944.

    Many of the purchase invoices survive, providing an important documentation of Chinese art dealers active in Shanghai and Beijing between 1938 and 1946. The majority of the invoices are dated to between December 1938 and July 1943, with a significant gap until April 1946, explained by Marchese Taliani and his wife's internment by the Japanese. The long list of dealers demonstrates the vibrant Chinese art market in Shanghai and Beijing in the late 1930s and early 1940s; this list includes the following:

    In Shanghai - K. D. Lu, Yee Chun Chang, C. K. Chou, Strehlneek's Gallery of Chinese Art, The Midoh Co., Tung Koo Tsar Chinese Curios & Arts Co., Philip Chu, Zui Wha Curios & Co., T. Y. King & Co., King Koo Chai, Tai Loong & Co., Tin Dao Shan Fang, Y. L. Hong, Chu Tsun Tsai, The China Curios Co., Hsueh Ken Chai, Zung Chang Ziang Co., The Little Pagoda, M. L. Kwauh, Hoggard – Sigler, and Foo Yuen Tsai.

    In Beijing - J. Plaut, Jung Hsing Chai, Mathias Komor, Tung Ku Chai Curio and Picture Store, Yi Pao Chai Jade Store, Jung Hsing Chai, Wan E. Cheng, Yung Pao Chia Jade Store, Mario Prodan, and Tung Yi & Co.

    Marchese Taliani published three books: Pietrogrado 1917, Milan, 1935; È Morto in Cina, Milan, 1949; and Dopoguerra a Shanghai, Milan, 1958.

    These magnificent cabinets are exceptionally rare and exhibit the highly refined craftsmanship of the late Ming dynasty. This is particularly evident in the four matching door panels cut from the same timber, demonstrating an identical grained and whirling pattern, as well as in their timeless elegance of perfect proportions and simplicity. In his article 'Notes on Chinese Furniture', the renowned scholar of Chinese furniture Dr Gustav Ecke, wrote with regard to the present cabinets that the stilted feet in the noble pieces of the Marchese Taliani de Marchio give an unusual distinction to this type of cabinet.

    In the Ming tradition, furniture was selected from books of drawings at the cabinetmaker's workshop and made to the proportions required. This would have led to certain unique personal preferences in stylistic choices, such as the higher beaded oval feet in the present lot, which lent it its 'unusual distinction'. Subtle variations give individual character to different tapered cabinets. The present lot's verticality is emphasised by higher legs, the grooving and beading of major upright supports, and long lock plates. The slight splay of the legs, create the impression of upward movement, and further underscores how the Ming craftsmen injected dynamism and movement into a static object.

    See a related pair of tapered huanghuali cabinets, early to mid-16th century, of slightly smaller dimensions, also with high legs but with upward-flip spandrels and ribbing, in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, illustrated by S.Handler, Austere Luminosity of Chinese Classical Furniture, Los Angeles, 2001, p.251, fig.15.12 (the Nelson-Atkins pair of cabinets were only known through Gustav Ecke's Chinese Domestic Furniture, no.92, pl.113, until they were found in the early 1980s by Eskenazi Ltd., London, and purchased by the museum; see G.Eskenazi and H.Elias, A Dealer's Hand: The Chinese Art World Through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012, p.247, no.186); for another related example of pair of cabinets, late 16th/ 17th century, also of smaller dimensions, see R.H.Ellsworth, et al, Chinese Furniture: One Hundred Examples from the Martin and Raymond Hung Collection, New York, 1996, pp.190-191, no.74; see also a single cabinet of similar form, but of much smaller size, illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Classic Chinese Furniture - Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Bangkok, 1986, pl.141.

    A single huanghuali sloping-stile wood-hinged cabinet, late Ming dynasty, but of smaller size, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 6 April 2016, lot 104; see also a huanghuali square corner tapered cabinet, fangjiaogui, 17th/ 18th century, which was sold at Christie's New York, 21 March 2013, lot 930.
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